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Frame Off Restoration - Step 7 - Restoring the interior hard components of a vehicle (Dash, console, heater, gauges, etc).

Introduction

This is another one of those steps that will vary wildly based on your specific car and the options on said car. The interior hard items are a collection of everything that sits inside the tub (i.e. inside the body) that wasn't already removed as part of the interior soft items. Now, this part of the process consists of a number of assemlies. Always remove one assembly at a time, completly restore it, store it safely and then move on to the next.

Metal panels and shields

This is the simplst part. All removable internal metal panels and shields should be removed and prepped for painting. If they are to match the body color the best thing to do is completely clean them and then either treat them so that they don't flash rust, or cover them with a coat of primer. Then you set them aside for the major painting process that comes later.

Dashboard

This can easily be the most complex part of this phase. The trick to this is to take out the entire dash assembly as a single unit (if possible, this isn't always the case). As you remove the dashboard, I prefer to first get in undrneath the dashboard and photograph all the connections as they presently exist. Then I disconnect all the wiring (if you're lucky the dash has it's own separate wiring harness, if not, then you have to disconnect wire by wire). During the disconnection process I put masking tape on the ends of the wires to label them as to where they went and or what they connected to. Then disconnect the speedometr cable. Depending on your car, your oil pressure gauge may be connected to wires only or to a hard oil line that goes to the engine. If it's the latter, disconnect it and put a plastic baggie over the end (and tape it shut to protect against leaks).

Once you can get the dashboard completely disconnected and out on the bench, photograph everything and slowly break it all down for cleaning and restoration. Now, the dashboard parts are somewhere that you may want to farm things out. For example, the dashboard on my Jensen Healey is a padded dash. While I can get a hard plastic cover for it to hide the cracks, for a really good proper restoration I would prefer to send it out to a dash rebuilder (which I will do on my project). Additionally, in the Austin Healey world, most people send their gauges to specific gauge rebuilders. This is an area where I recommends that you ask around in your car community, as they are the best resources for specialized information like this.

Once everything's completely broken down and all the parts restored reassemble the dashboard wrap it in bubble wrap and store it away.

Under-dash Items

Ok, I call these under-dash items, but they may be found in multiple places, depending on the car you're working on. In this I'm referring to items such as the windshield wiper motors, heater boxes, etc. The point for this is to work thse items just like the dash. Remove them as an entire assemble (one assembly at a time) do all the necessary restoration work, and then package them away.

For some examples of this sort of work, you can see how I restored the Windshield wiper assembly and Heater box assembly for my Jensen Healey. After you take care of the first assembly, it's a matter of "rinse, lather, and repeat" for the rest. Once you've removed everything there should be little remaining in the interior of the body, short of some cables, a blanking plate or two, and the wirinng harness. Remove the rest of these items, restore/replace them as appropriate and store them away.

Conclusion

This phase sounds pretty easy, and on th whole, if you move slowly and carefully it is. Don't try to rush through it. It may be frustrating at times because you feel like you're spending far too much time fiddling with stuff you'll never see. But this is all time well spent. First off, if you're new to the restoration process it's great practice on regions of the car which won't be visible after the fact. Secondly, this work has to be done. If it's don before the body and paint work, thn you won't be double frustrated having to fiddl with it while that pretty painted car body sits in your garage gathering dust. Thirdly, it allows you to continue to spread the cost of the restoration, which helps termendously for budgeting purposes.

On to Step 8: Front End Accessories

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Contents copyright 2008, 2009 - Jody F. Kerr

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